Anthony LaRosa
JRNM 151

The National Junior College Athletic Association announced on March 13 that their spring sports would be postponed for 21 days. Three days later, the NJCAA released a statement cancelling all spring sports for the season. This was just the beginning of a complex situation involving the status of sports through the Covid-19 pandemic.

On Jul. 13, fall and spring sports were postponed until new year except one sport: men’s and women’s cross country.

Mackenzie Diebel and Charlie Yonts display their medals.
Mackenzie Diebel and Charlie Yonts display their medals.

“We had to keep it in everyone’s mind that we have the opportunity to participate right now, but that could change. We always needed to be in clear communication, we knew for the safety of our student athletes we may have to shut down at any point,” said Jim Powers, LCCC cross-country coach and assistant athletic director.

In a normal year, the cross-country team has eight races. This year that was reduced to four.

“We always kept it in the back of our mind that any race could be our last race. I said that before the regionals, if this is our last race, then let’s make it a great one,” Powers said, “They did, all of the men’s team ran their season best races at regionals and two out of our four women did also.”

The men became the 2020 NJCAA Region 12 DIII Champions at regionals and the women’s team placed second to Kellogg Community College, the second-best team in the country.

“It was one of the most rewarding years I had. There were good sports programs that were just not having good seasons. For the men and women to come out and run their best race of the season at the most important race of the season was phenomenal,” Powers said.

 “I wanted them to know how proud they should be of themselves. To be taking a full-time class schedule and working a job, to maneuver through this landmine of a season and still be successful in the season, they should be proud of what they have accomplished. A lot of sports programs didn’t even get that chance to compete, don’t be let down that we did not go to nationals, but we were able to compete.”

The Commodores were unable to participate in NJCAA DIII National Championships in Fort Dodge, Iowa, due to the pandemic.

Powers said, “We knew a few weeks ahead of time that this trip may not happen. Iowa was a state on Ohio’s travel advisory list. The more we talked about it, it just wasn’t going to happen. Everybody thought it was the right decision.”

In his statement announcing the suspension of athletics, Jonathan Dryden, LCCC provost and vice president for Academic Affairs and the University Partnership, said, “As with everything we do, the decision to suspend athletics was made with the health and safety of our athletes, coaches and our entire campus in mind. We are disappointed to have to make this decision, however, it would be nearly impossible to implement the precautions needed to ensure a safe environment during competition, practices and travel.”

Powers said he was not surprised about the decision that the college came to. The coaches, administration, and athletic director were all in an agreement.

To the athletes whose season has been affected, Powers said to “remember that you are a Commodore.”

“The season may not be going on right now but you are a student athlete here at LCCC. We are still going to do everything we can to keep you engaged. We are still here academically, support system wise, and student success wise. We want to make sure our student athletes still think of themselves as Commodores here at LCCC and the season will start next year.”